Kevin Garnett's Legacy Will Be as a Member of the Boston Celtics
When it's all said and done, Kevin Garnett will probably number among the top 25 players of all time. He's a champion. He's an MVP. He's a Boston Celtic.
Don't get me wrong, his time in Minnesota will play a large part in how we remember Garnett. For 12 long years he led a franchise that may not have survived without him.
In 2004, he won the NBA MVP award. He took his team as far as the Western Conference Finals. When it comes down to it, Kevin Garnett was the Minnesota Timberwolves.
But when it comes to your legacy, it's better to serve in Heaven than to rule in Hell.
When Kevin Garnett came to Boston he did something many superstars can't: he took a backseat. He decided to do what was best for his team, and in doing so he revived the league's most historic franchise.
In doing so he cemented his place among the all-time greats. Very few players can claim to have lead the Boston Celtics to a championship. Garnett belongs to a group with Bill Russell, Dave Cowens and Larry Bird.
Not only did he win a championship in Boston. He did it against the Lakers. No Celtic or Laker is complete without beating the other. That's a big reason why Shaq will never be fully appreciated in L.A.
In just one year, Garnett accomplished the most important thing a Celtic can do.
But Garnett wasn't a one year wonder. The Celtics looked stronger than ever in year two, starting out a nearly inconceivable 27-2. Had Garnett not injured his knee, Boston probably would have won another championship.
Three more years and three more deep playoff runs (including a narrow loss to the Lakers in a classic finals matchup) later, Garnett's impact on the Celtics franchise has been set in stone.
But it doesn't stop there. Sometimes a legacy can be changed as much by someone's effect on another player as their own greatness. In Garnett's case, his legacy will forever be tied to that of a certain Miami-based monarch.
Who took down LeBron when his Cavs were the defending Eastern Conference champions? Who stunned the MVP and his 61-win title-favorite in 2010? For a three-year period, Garnett and the Celtics invariably affected LeBron James.
It doesn't end there. When James jumped ship for Miami (a move many blame on his inability to beat Boston alone), the Celtics became his arch nemesis. Every game between the two teams became appointment television, and much of the narrative during his initial Miami season was that a "quitter" like LeBron could never beat a team of winners like the Celtics.
And when LeBron finally made the leap from quitter to champion? It happened in a legendary Game 6 against, you guessed it, Boston.
Boston has been involved in more legendary NBA moments over the past five years than anyone, and all of it is because of Kevin Garnett's presence. He put the Celtics on the map in a way the Timberwolves can only dream of.
Legacy is a tricky thing. It's not necessarily about how good a player was, but how much they meant to a specific era. In the grand scheme of things, Garnett's 12-year Minnesota tenure really didn't have a major effect on NBA history.
His five years in Boston have. He changed the landscape of the league. Whether it was through the forced evolution of LeBron James or by his revival of basketball in Boston is up to you. What matters is that 20 years from now when you think of Kevin Garnett, you'll think of him as a Celtic.
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